Veteran linebacker Adalius Thomasis expected to miss the rest of the season with an arm injury, leaving the New England Patriots with holes to fill on defense.
"Anytime you lose a player, especially an impact player like him, it hurts," cornerback Ellis Hobbstold the Boston Globe.
Thomas emerged into a leader on defense this season and had played on 99 percent of the team's snaps before getting hurt.
"We prepare ourselves in a way [that] if the next man goes down, then the next man better be ready," Hobbs told the Providence Journal.
Third-year linebacker Pierre Woodswill get the chance to fill in on a full-time basis now that Thomas is gone.
"It's definitely an opportunity, so if I just go out there and do my job, I'll be fine," Woods told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
The Globe also reports that quarterback Tom Bradymay need more time to recover from knee surgery due to an infection and later catches up with injured running back Laurence Maroney, who elaborates on the "issues" that affected his performance this season.
"I might think too much – overanalyze things," Maroney told the Globe.
With so many outside distractions, the Patriots are working hard toward focusing on Thursday's important division game against the New York Jets.
"We just have to make the best of what we have in this locker room," defensive end Jarvis Greentold the Boston Herald.
The Patriots don't have time to feel sorry for themselves.
"Our focus right now with three days left is the Jets," linebacker Mike Vrabeltold the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
The main news out of the Big Apple today is the Jets' signing of Ty Law, who has spent time with both New England and New York in his career. Law predicts he'll be ready for Thursday night.
The Jets need help at cornerback and were also interested in DeAngelo Hall before he signed with Washington. Ironically, Law was one of the first players cut by the Jets when head coach Eric Mangini took over in 2006. Law even mixed in a little trash-talking during his interview with the NFL Network.
"I know what they're going to throw at me, but I welcome the challenge. Bring it. I've got tricks for you," Law told the New York Daily News.
The importance of Thursday's game cannot be understated. The winner will take over sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
"We haven't had a game like this, other than the playoff game (in 2006), where so much was riding on the game," tight end Chris Baker told the Newark Star Ledger.